International Design Workshop, «Creative City — The city as a living laboratory»

Meldung vom 22.09.2016 in der Kategorie Workshops

Booklet «Creative City Hong Kong 2016»,

Cities are extremely complex systems. Even when we try to analyse them, we can hardly grasp all of their aspects. Despite all their dysfunctional challenges, cities are the place where most people will live in near future. They offer great diversity, vitality, and in the best case, economic security. They bring together people from different cultural, social and economic backgrounds, with entirely different needs and behaviours. To ensure conscious and civic coexistence, it is necessary to consider, and at the same time question, the conditions typical of living in the city. This demands both careful analysis and holistic thinking. The process of understanding the various needs of city inhabitants requires a widely imaginative mind-set, and a practice of constant negotiation.

How can we as designers contribute to the negotiation of a common, public space, and construct a city based on holistic thinking, reaching beyond the sum of individual needs? In order to do so, we must engage with the process, collaborate with each other, and spark off the creative city. To promote the creative city, we need to identify existent potentials and strive for innovative approaches. So the first stage in building a creative city is to recognise and encourage diversity, to learn how to deal with complex structures, and to be ready to make a difference — for our own future.

Based on this idea, this year’s International Design Workshop focused on the concept of the «Creative City» from the perspective of different design disciplines. Our goal was to explore and experiment with the potential of various ways of thinking and working in design, and to apply it to the creative city. We selected the city of Hong Kong as a living laboratory for the workshop, and underwent an intensive one-week empirical confrontation with a — for us — foreign context. To be able to establish a closer relationship with the city, we invited three Hong Kong-based professionals — designers, researchers, and artists — to run individual workshops on the given topic.

Through these workshops we want our students to become acquainted with the city of Hong Kong from a more inclusive perspective — to learn from a different culture and urban reality, and to expand their knowledge of the city, as well as to consider the man-made environment from a broader perspective. We wish to motivate them to come up with new approaches and creative solutions by elaborating strategies and methods that stem from to their own design practice.

The city of Hong Kong as a laboratory to explore, and Connecting Spaces as the place to define and produce different concepts.

Concept and realisation:
Karin Zindel, Research Associate, Master of Arts in Design

Invited Lecturers:
Dr. Yanki Lee, Albert Tsang, Dr. Kacey Wong, Michael Leung

Collaboration and support:
Nuria Krämer and her team from the Connecting Spaces Hong Kong

Poster «Creative City – The City as living laboratory», Hong Kong 2016


The Master of Arts in Design at the Zurich University of the Arts hosts an International Design Workshop every year with all Master students. This is the second time that the workshop has taken place in Hong Kong at the ZHdK Hub Connecting Spaces:

The aim of the International Design Workshop is to offer our students the possibility to participate in an interdisciplinary and intensive programme, away from their own Master project and usual environment, in order to explore a particular topic with professionals from different backgrounds, and to exchange new strategies as well as methods related to design, arts and theory in a foreign context. The experience and knowledge gained should inspire and help them to come up with distinctive approaches for their own design project, and open up novel perspectives.

The International Design Workshop took place during the second semester of the Master of Arts in Design Programme 2016.

Workshop 1 — Design Open Food City

Hong Kong is a city with great food, but also a city prone to waste. Every day, more than 3,200 tonnes of food waste is produced in the city. Can designers become critical agents proposing alternative solutions to citizens and question inappropriate social changes? In this five-day design experiment, we are going to explore the Western Wholesale Food Market, one of the main sources of food waste in the city. By applying the action-research-methodology and methods of design interventions, we are going to develop new ideas to disrupt the existing system of wholesale business: over 500 stalls supplying vegetables, fruits, eggs and fish for 1.3 million citizens on the Hong Kong Island. As a result, a special event for all participants and community members will be organized to share the workshop’s findings with the market.

Dr. Yanki Lee is founder and director of EXHIBIT at Golden Lane Estate, a social design agency in London focused on design research for social inclusion and innovation. A research fellow at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design of Royal College of Art and Architecture since 2000, she also founded the HKDI DESIS Lab for Social Design Research. |

Albert Tsang Siu Yin is a design researcher and teacher with focus on social design, particularly concentrating on participation through design, co-design, as well as action research as a way of gaining knowledge. He is one of the founding members of the HKDI DESIS lab for Social Design Research.

Workshop 2 — Almost Utopia

Almost Utopia takes you off the beaten track to a selection of spaces and places that may alter your perception of Hong Kong as a high-rise metropolis fuelled by neoliberal capitalism. The journey takes participants to the «four corner» of Hong Kong, to autonomous, public and common spaces that have been created by different communities. Following a series of visits, from an independent coastal village to a grassroots fabric market, from an organic community farm to a beautiful neighbourhood, participants will collectively produce a zine publication. The workshop encourages participants to take time, absorb the different environments, form relationships, reflect and respond, in any creative medium.

Inspired by publications such as Inventing the Future (Srnicek & Williams), Invisible Cities (Italo Calvino), Strike! magazine (UK) and zine culture, participants will consider what utopia means (in a place like Hong Kong) and create multi-disciplinary works and interventions that will be composited in a batch produced zine publication (printed in Connecting Spaces).

Michael Leung is a designer, beekeeper and urban farmer. He was born in London and moved to Hong Kong in 2009 to complete a Masters in Design. His work ranges from conceptual objects for the dead to urban agriculture projects such as HK Honey, HK Farm and HK Salt. Leung is a visiting tutor at the School of Design, Baptist University and at the Intercommon Institute, where he teaches socially engaged art in and social design, respectively. / Instagram: studio_leung

Workshop 3 — Secret Emotional Installation

Hong Kong, as a hyper-dense metropolis, is a city of Functionalism. Like a well-oiled machine, the city moves literally millions of people and goods each day, with its highly efficient, complex networks of streets, and its transportation system. In Hong Kong, as elsewhere, such urban systems are designed with only the practicality of movement in mind; a by-product has been the generation of a sense of alienation or coldness.

This workshop will focus on producing thought-provoking urban interventions within the streets and alleyways of Hong Kong. Treating the streets as both site and laboratory, participants will first learn, and then apply spatial observation skills, analytical skills and installation strategies. As a final project, each participant will create a secret installation near Connecting Spaces at North Point. The deliverable can be a design, an installation, or a performance-based work involving the physical body of the student. The objective is to activate the street space and the emotion of the everyday passer-by.

Dr. Kacey Wong studied architecture at Cornell University, received his Master of Fine Arts from Chelsea School of Art and Design and his Doctor of Fine Arts from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He is the founding member of Art Citizens, Street Design Union, Umbrella Movement Art Preservation, and former curator and member of Para/Site Art Space. Wong’s experimental art projects investigate the space between people and their living environment, and the artist’s and designer’s role within social political causes.

Aktualisiert am: 24. Februar 2017